Georgia Magazine - January 2011 - (Page 34)

From the hearth A healthy diet—for your fireplace By Rodney PhilliPs W hether you have a masonry fireplace or a manufactured one, safety and durability depend on feeding your cheery fire with the proper fuel. It’s not just a choice between softwood (like pine) or hardwood (oak and hickory); the initial condition of the billets and how they are stored make all the difference between a sweet-performing fire and a smoky, balky irritant or a roaring, jet engine-type flue fire. Look to the wood Maybe your fireplace has already earned its keep this season, providing cozy evenings of flickering highlights and special warmth. Or perhaps the experience has been less than desired. Look to the wood. One Georgia resident was frustrated by her newly installed manufactured fireplace. It would not draw air and smoked up the master bedroom. Design or construction flaws can produce this effect in built-on-site masonry fireplaces, but so can poorly installed metal prefabricated units. Charlie Hanft of Hearth and Patio, in Tucker, was called in. A thorough inspection revealed no installation missteps in the firebox, damper or flue. What then? Charlie took the inspection outside to a rack of neatly stacked, split logs, where he discovered there wasn’t a good burn in any of them. Stored with full exposure to the weather, the seasoned wood was soaking wet, and the rest was cut too recently. Wet or unseasoned wood is hard to ignite, burns “cool” and produces prodigious amounts of smoke without the hot updraft that sends smoke where it should go. These same conditions also set the stage for exces34 PHOTOSPIN sive creosote collection in the flue and a possible chimney fire. How to tell if firewood is properly seasoned Time is one factor. This season’s wood should have been cut in the spring. Six months or so of air-drying is required. Look for cracks and splits in the cut ends of the billets. Wood shrinks and cracks as it dries. The wood should also feel light for its size, give a sharp or hollow sound when struck, and be free of any moldy or musty smells. Logs that sound dull and are soft on impact, or hiss and ooze water while burning, are rejects. Pound for pound, softwoods produce the same heat as hardwoods. Softwoods will also burn as cleanly when properly seasoned and stored—that is, dry and under cover. Types of wood burn differently, and a pound-for-pound comparison is More online at www.georgiamagazine.org a bit misleading because seasoned softwoods are less dense. Softwoods also burn more rapidly and do not produce a hot coal bed like hardwoods. There is nothing wrong with that. But for heat as well as light, hardwoods are the ticket. Pricing firewood Most folks purchase by the cord or truckload, which can mean a measurably higher cost per unit of heat with softwoods. The one uniform measurement for purchasing firewood is the cord, which is 128 cubic feet (4x4x8 feet) of closely stacked firewood. That is a lot of wood. Avoid random volumes. If the price is by the truckload, you have no way to determine actual volume. How big is the truck bed? Is the wood tightly stacked or loosely tossed in a pile? Is the wood cut to GEORGIA MAGAZINE 1 PHOTODIVA / ISTOCKPHOTO.COM http://www.ISTOCKPHOTO.COM http://www.georgiamagazine.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - January 2011

Georgia Magazine - January 2011
Contents
Viewpoint
Mailbox
Picture This?
Georgia News
Calendar
Currents
Special Energy Report
A Country Boy Rolls
A Weekend in the Country
Around Georgia
My Georgia
Georgia@home
Gardens
Georgia Cooks
2011 Readers’ Choice Awards Entry Form
Cookbook of the Month
Snapshot

Georgia Magazine - January 2011

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